• Investing in P2P loans via Lending Crowd: An experiment

    Are you thinking about dabbling in some P2P lending?

    I have been, and last year I took the plunge with Lending Crowd after perusing this handy comparison of P2P platforms in New Zealand. Here’s a little recap of my experience so far.

    Signing up to invest in P2P loans with Lending Crowd was relatively straightforward. I did have to upload copies of my ID as part of the Lending Crowd investor application, but it was basically instant.

    Once you’re all approved, you need to deposit some money so you can start investing in loans – $500 minimum.

    Step 1: Click the Deposit Funds option in your Lending Crowd account. This will bring up all the details that you need in order to do a bank transfer – moving your funds from your bank account into the Lending Crowd account, and ensuring they are applied to your individual investor account.

    Step 2: Take those details and do the bank transfer.

    Step 3: Funds are sent to Lending Crowd, and applied to your investment account.

    Then the fun part: Choosing some loans to invest in!




    Loans go FAST on Lending Crowd. I started my application on a Friday afternoon, and could see that the one available loan on the market was close to fully funded. I checked in a couple hours later that evening, and it was gone.

    Luckily, I got an email early the following week letting me know that email notifications were now available. Sweet, I thought. I don’t have to keep logging in all the time to check if new loans have come on the market! I promptly signed up to get new Lending Crowd loan alerts by email.

    A spate of about 5 loans trickled in the next day. But I didn’t have time to actually log in until night time, and by then only 2 were left and both very were close to funded. I’ll sleep on it, I thought. But by morning, both were gone.

    The following evening I received another email, and logged in about 10 minutes later. In that short time, about $3k of the $16k loan had already been funded! I pitched in for $50 and left it at that.

    The day after that I received another email in the afternoon and logged in immediately (as in, within a couple of minutes). The $3.4k loan had already had $500 in funding. This was a B2 (highest risk )category with 18.74% interest rate!

    That was pretty much how it went. You have to get in quick to get in at all. I kept playing the game over the next few weeks. and committed all my $500 to various loans, mostly in $50 lots each. But by the end of the month, I had 3 buys reversed, leaving me with $150 still to invest. (I assume those loans did not wind up going through for whatever reason.) I had to find new loans to invest in, and so even though I created my account in late September, I wasn’t fully invested until about the end of October. I started getting my first repayments in November.

    So far, I have had one loan repaid early – in 4 1/2 months instead of 36 months. That loan was at an interest rate of 10.96%. I wound up earning $1.64 on that $50 loan, so it looks like I made 3.3%.

    According to my Lending Crowd dashboard, to date my net average return (an annualised rate) is 11.79%.

    lending crowd p2p investment returns snapshot

     

    I’m basically leaving that alone now and just checking in every so often. It’s been a fun experiment.

    What, if any, have your experiences been with P2P lending?

  • The least feminist post I’ll ever write

    The least feminist post I'll ever write - On being a female breadwinner and having a family
     

    After a spate of breakups, I don’t believe there are any couples left in my regular IRL circle with a clear female breadwinner. Just me. It’s a lonely place to be.

    One couple previously had a disparity, but have now equalled out, or close to it. Unsurprisingly, they are both happy about this, as it takes the financial pressure off her when it comes to having a family (particularly, god forbid, if pregnancy turned out to be difficult healthwise) which is now officially in the works! They’re working toward him getting a well-paying job so she can stay home with kids like she hopes to.

    Every other couple has fallen apart – and money has been a factor for at least some, and possibly all of them. It’s such a common thread, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. There were elements of them supporting, enabling and being taken advantage of by their partners. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh; let’s say in every case, the dudes failed to step up and pull their own weight.

    There’s also one woman I am acquainted with, who I thought might be a bit of a role model in that regard. There’s a loose parallel in our career paths and we both make more than our partner, but she’s about a decade older with kids. Yay, right? Unfortunately that illusion has been gradually shattered for me, as it’s becoming clearer that he doesn’t seem to contribute his fair share in any aspect of the relationship. And thus, theirs is not one I aspire to emulate.

    But even if you have an awesome partner in every way, who pulls their weight overall, but just HAPPENS to earn a lot less….

    Any kind of imbalance or inequality in a relationship can be tough to navigate. When it comes to money, it’s just easier if you’re roughly equal earners.

    There are the values you think you have, and then the actual feelings you have

    If I’m being honest with myself, I’d love a partner who earned as much or more than me. It’s not the outearning in itself that’s the problem; it’s the flow-on effects.

    Where it really becomes an issue is when kids come into the picture. 

    I don’t need to be looked after – but it’d be nice to have the option, you know?

    There are moments where it just feels like a rough deal all round. Not only do I have to make the bacon but bake the bun too? (Worst mixed metaphor ever. Sorry!)

    But then again, we couldn’t have predicted this; 7 years ago I thought I’d be a journalist forever and he’d work up to being a qualified tradie who’d earn the bulk of our income. How things change! And who knows what else might happen in the next couple of years?

    For now though, I think about the practicalities of eventually starting a family and am discouraged.

    The ideal would be if we both individually earned an income that would support a family, but that is not the case. The loss of my income while on parental leave reduces our income by … well, a hell of a lot more than half. And our household income is not particularly high to begin with.

    “Doesn’t that worry you?” my best friend asked me recently over lunch as we talked numbers.

    Hell yes, it does.

    Financially speaking, here’s what me being the breadwinner means if we want to start a family:

    1) I won’t be able to take a full year off (which is the norm here). Which isn’t too terrible; six months seems like a reasonable chunk to me and that would be manageable if we start planning ahead ASAP, though it’ll definitely be a stretch. I’m fairly certain I’ll be well and ready to get back to interacting with adults and doing what I’m best at by then!

    2) I won’t be able to quit my job and stay home if I change my mind. As above, I suspect I’d be itching to get back to work … but what if I’m not? I just don’t know, is all. It’s pretty unlikely though, so I’m just going to entirely ignore this possibility.

    Plus, I can’t help but worry about the off chance that something throws a spanner in the works healthwise.

    Everything might work out if everything goes to plan. But what if I have health issues in pregnancy, like some of my current and former colleagues? What if I need to give up work earlier than planned or return later than planned?




    Between biology, the work world, parental leave law (less than minimum wage for approx 4 months here), a society centuries in the making … no wonder it’s so hard to break the mould of men working and women staying home. (Not all of us aspire to entrepreneurship, remember.) It’s just not set up for it.  

    There’s the long game to consider as well, which didn’t even occur to me until a friend pointed this out to me: Add in the fact that often 1) women earn less than men do in the same job 2) have to spend more on certain things by way of being female 3) live longer and thus need more saved for retirement. Ouch.

    I don’t mean this to come off in a whiny, woe-is-me way. I feel like a bad feminist just for writing this all out (hence the title); I feel like I should be loudly and proudly proclaiming that I can and will do it all! Especially when I’ve been slammed on Facebook in the past for even daring to suggest otherwise, when I shared a link to a post that talked about how unrealistic it is to expect to have it all.

    We’ll muddle through, I’m sure. One way or another – we’ve got time to figure it out. I’ve been running some numbers here and there. But this is one financial area where I want to leave as little to chance as possible.


  • How to find last minute travel deals

    how to find last minute travel deals

    Sometimes last minute travel deals are absolute steals. Even though my life isn’t really well suited to spontaneous trips (work, house, pets – my carefree days are behind me) I’m still subscribed to way more travel mailing lists than I should be…

    While I’m going to mainly talk about New Zealand-centric last minute travel deals below, for international readers, there’s always Lastminutetravel and you most likely have your own country-specific versions!




    Last minute flight deals

    Grabaseat is the home of cheap seats on Air New Zealand flights. I wake up to emails from them every morning, but it’s probably best to follow them on Twitter as well!

    Last minute hotel deals

    I’ve used these a few times before, specifically for staycations. I do like the idea of the mystery deals, when you book an amazing discount on an unknown hotel that’s revealed AFTER you make the reservation. If you’re willing to put in the time to do some sleuthing, though, you may very well be able to deduce what the hotel is based off the information they do provide about their facilities/location! Lots of websites offer these – I’ve mainly used wotif.com.

    Last minute rental deals

    One thing I have yet to do is take advantage of a car relocation deal through the likes of Transfercar. They’re great for backpacker types with flexible schedules. When visitors rent a vehicle (a car, a campervan) and drive one way from one end of the country to the other, someone has to bring it back! And that could be you, if you can arrange your own way there. How it works is that you pick it up, have a set amount of days (and kilometres) to drive it back to the home base, and pay nothing or very little for the rental. Sometimes fuel (and ferry fare if it’s interisland) may be covered too. To be fair, you won’t really have time for sightseeing but if you’re on a super strict budget, it’s not a bad option.

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

  • You will never be perfect with money

    You'll never be perfect with money and thats ok

    And that’s okay. 100%!

    We are human. Flawed. Fallible. Emotional.

    We hoard cash even if it would make more financial sense to focus more on debt, because that helps us sleep at night.

    We support loved ones at our own expense.

    We buy things we don’t need and maybe don’t even really want.

    We chicken out of negotiating.

    We fail to do research.

    We make impulse decisions.

    What matters is that we do our best. Do what’s right for ourselves at that point in time.

    And then, we get back on the horse. Forgive ourselves for the past and focus on the future.

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

  • When financial opposites attract

    financial opposites

    It’s coming up to the anniversary of my buying a house (huzzah!)

    Unfortunately, the circumstances around that were, shall we say, less than ideal.

    I bought it alone. It was not how I’d imagined it happening.

    (Longtime readers know some of the back story here. If you’re a bit of a voyeur, click here to sign up for my new monthly newsletter – the first edition goes out this weekend. It’ll be all exclusive content: opening up more details about my financial journey (beyond what’s here on the blog), the ups and downs, plus my picks of the very best curated reads on money from around the web.)

    So, the past year has been a journey.

    We’ve revisited goals and aspirations and worked towards creating a new system for the day to day.

    We have in the past totally pooled money, and dipped in and out of having some separation of money over time. Right now is possibly the most separate our finances have ever been, and it’s working out better.

    That means from my end: handing over some things, learning to trust. Starting small.

    That means from his end: taking ownership of those things, and pride in doing so.

    The problem with us combining money so young and so early on, and me (being the savvy and more control freak type, taking charge of handling it all) was he didn’t really understand – the way that I did – what it takes to run the finances. The time and energy that goes into managing money. How much life actually costs. As I grew my income and thus our overall household income over the years, it was even easier to disengage and coast, and in the end get a free ride for some of it. Result: I wound up making way too many financial sacrifices.

    This way he has skin in the game – responsibility for certain things (whether it’s saving for a new fence or cash flowing pet related stuff) getting hands-on with them and owning those numbers.

    Even letting go of little things has been terrifying for me. I’m glad it’s proven to have been the right move, though. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • How to break the cycle of underearning (because you’re worth it)

    How to overcome underearning and make what you're worth

    How to overcome underearning and make what you're worth

    Money troubles usually come down to one of two things: overspending or underearning.

    There’s a million and one posts out there about curbing spending. But underearning is a less explored – and thornier – subject.

    Are you an underearner? I suspect that I was, briefly. But I didn’t realise it until recently.

    It all started when I came across this podcast with Bari Tessler and ended with me reading Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny. I can’t say I’d ever really come across the concept before. 

    It’s a sensitive topic – who wants to think that they’re not living up to their potential? ‘Underearner’ is not a particularly flattering label. But the key is about desire – many of us have the potential to earn more in different types of work but choose not to.

    What is underearning?

    Underearning, as I’ve seen it defined, is about earning less than you want to. Bringing in less than you need or than would be beneficial, despite attempting otherwise.

    It’s not about raw numbers. Or the hours you work. Or ‘underachieving’.

    It’s about the ability (could earn more) combined with the desire (want to earn more) but for whatever reason, it isn’t happening.

    Reverse snobbery

    Especially in creative fields, I think there’s often a bit of reverse snobbery at play. Prejudices against money and toward the wealthy. We sort of believe and play into the idea of the nobility of poverty – of struggling for art. Making money is selling out. As Tessler points out, creative and self employed types often set fees too low – and don’t raise them often enough.

    But as Stanny writes in her book, ironically, few people work harder or obsess more about lack of money than underearners do.

     As the artist Willem de Kooning once aptly remarked, ‘The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time’. 

    Not having enough money is exhausting. Dealing with the realities of hardship is a constant grind.

    I suspect as women, there may be an added dimension at play. We are, after all, relatively new to the workplace as we know it compared to men. Home is still considered the female domain, and we’re still considered the nurturers and caretakers. A point raised in an episode of The Broad Experience (a great podcast on women and success that I’ve recently discovered) was that often we perceive ‘doing well’ as being materialistic, or greedy. I’ve definitely encountered that in reaction to things I’ve written on the blog here and there! But more on that a bit later on. 

    How to overcome underearning

    There are many external factors that affect how much we currently earn. Also, life happens and sometimes your income takes a hit.

    Not to mention, there are factors that affect how much we CAN earn. Different fields are structured differently. Some will never pay much – choosing to stay in one of those will limit your options. 

    But as with anything else in life, it boils down to focusing on what you can control. That might mean steeling yourself to:

    • Ask for a raise
    • Change roles
    • Switch industries
    • Start your own business and work for yourself

    Staying in a job too long is a common trap – a job that’s comfortable like old jeans, doing things the way you’ve always done them. In most cases, changing companies is the fastest way to advance pay-wise.

    But most importantly: learn to ask for what you’re worth. Even if that feels uncomfortable. Even if it seems outrageous. Negotiate salary offers, and ask for raises. That’s what it all seems to boil down to. 

    Overcoming underearning pretty much requires that you believe in your value, and stick to it. I was so at risk of underselling myself when I left journalism (thankfully, it worked out even better than I’d hoped). I knew better for the next time around, and I got exactly what I wanted upon my next move

    There’s a huge mental component to underearning. Most of us can’t just flick a switch and suddenly become a totally different person. Here’s where I’ve gleaned another tip from The Broad Experience: You need your own WWJD mantra. Think of somebody that you know – someone who’s direct and isn’t afraid to ask for what they want. What would they do? Channel them!

    Enjoying what you’ve earned

    Despite knowing the market, I feel ridiculously overpaid sometimes – like, how can my work be worth this much? And then I realise people around me are certainly earning 6 figures, and that reboots my perspective – and spurs me on. It would have been totally unfathomable before this; it almost feels like I’ve discovered a secret, tapped into a new level in the game of life, busted through a ceiling.

    None of the six figure women interviewed by Stanny had any qualms about openly declaring their desire to profit. They took pleasure in reaping the rewards of their work. They knew that the more money they made, the more choices they had. Financial freedom is the ultimate flexibility.

    Success goes beyond building up a bank account too; it also includes building up career capital, networks, etc along the way. And with more of these resources at your disposal, you can enjoy more freedom, security, and do more for others.

    Have you struggled with underearning in your career?

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

  • What my Asian parents taught me about money

    WHAT MY ASIAN PARENTS TAUGHT ME ABOUT MONEY

    Like all true Asian parents, mine drilled the work first, play later mentality into me.

    (Though in fairness they were nowhere near Amy Chua tiger mother levels.)

    And along with modelling delayed gratification, my Asian family also taught me a few things about money over the years that I’ve never forgotten.

    Shop the sales

    Apparently I once asked Mum, “why don’t you ever buy anything that’s not on special?”

    She is the most frugal person I know. Never overpays for anything, and knows how to get the best price on everything.

    Back when we were in primary school, I once went to the supermarket with my best friend in primary school to get snacks. We were so proud to find and buy bottles of Coke on special for 99c. Even my friend’s dad praised us for our bargain hunting ways!

    Not my mum. At their lowest price, she informed us, you could get those bottles on special for even less than that.

    She is the queen of thrift shopping and I didn’t really appreciate it until adulthood. Now I’m like, tell me all your secrets.

    Always negotiate

    We spent a lot of time at garage sales when I was a kid and I watched the master bargainers in action. Whether it was a $2 doll or a $600 TV, they would always ask for a better deal (as it turns out, basically everything is negotiable).

    Despite all that, I could barely bring myself to haggle at markets while travelling through Asia. And I think back on the times I didn’t negotiate salary and mentally kick myself.

    I get the theory, but actually doing it is a different kettle of fish.

    Needs vs wants

    Wants never masqueraded as needs in our household, not even for a second. People bleat on about how extravagant parents are with presents for their kids, but we literally didn’t get gifts. I feel like we could have done with more wants, growing up.

    (For years we didn’t have a TV – before broadband, before streaming, and so I never got to participate in conversations about last night’s TV shows at school. #firstworldproblems)

    OTOH, sometimes needs can be disguised as wants…

    Props to them for trying to pass off buying me a sleeping bag (you know, for school camp) as an early birthday present. (Spoiler: didn’t fall for it.) Even 10-year-old me knew better.

    I’ve always stood by the belief that gifts are for things you want, not things you need. That will never change.

    What did you learn from your family about money?

    Disease Called Debt
  • Get your money mojo back with these 8 quick financial wins

    8 quick financial wins to get your money mojo back

     

    Sometimes financial progress is slow. Like any other habit, getting sorted with money is an ongoing process.

    Sometimes, you just need an easy win.

    Here are a few quick financial wins I’ve found recently – there’s nothing quite like that sense of accomplishment!

    Check your credit report

    A quick win if there ever was one – requesting your credit report doesn’t cost any money and only takes a few minutes of your time. Hopefully there are no surprises! If all looks good, you get to sit back and relax for awhile. If there are any errors, it’s better to know about them now and get onto addressing them sooner rather than later.

    Organise financial paperwork

    I feel like I’m constantly chasing a pile of papers, even though I’ve transitioned to getting most things by email. Banking, mortgage, tax, investing, insurance and any other kind of financial documents lying around deserve a place to live. I sat down awhile ago and sorted them into various folders. Having some semblance of order there felt like a massive step forward!

    Make an extra payment

    Whatever amount you can throw at that loan, credit card, mortgage! Every little bit counts and results in less interest paid overall. WIN.

    Set up an automatic transfer to savings/investing

    For the first time, I have an automated investing plan (outside of KiwiSaver). It’s only $100 a month ($50 into 2 different funds) but you know, it was really hard to push the button on. I still have a massive fear of financial commitments but I am so, so aware of the power of paying yourself first.

    Start tracking net worth

    I kind of did this a couple of times, randomly, between the time I started working full time and the time I took a six-month leave to travel. I was pleasantly surprised, upon returning home, to see that the number wasn’t quite as low as I expected! Obviously I’d drained most of my liquid funds, but the investments I had kept growing, and so the total sum looked a little healthier than I anticipated. Anyway, since buying a house I’ve started tracking my net worth every month. It’s incredibly motivating to see the steady progress!




    And while I’m on a roll, here are a few more ideas I came up with! All it takes is ONE thing for each of these – a single focus at a time.

    Pick 1 thing to cut back on buying

    Delicious pies. Overpriced juices. Skincare that never lives up to its miraculous claims. Whatever. Choose a line item and reduce spending there! Not saying cut it out – just trim it back.

    Review 1 bill

    You know, those boring but important and regular-as-clockwork bills. Power. Internet. Insurance. Choose one, do some research, shop around for a better deal. Maybe even negotiate with your current provider – they might sharpen up the price on your package. (Confession: I seriously never make time to do this, and I should!)

    Track spending for 1 month

    If you’ve never really tracked your spending, have fallen out of the habit, or perhaps had major changes to your financial situation, give it a go – it might be illuminating. People always go on about the hidden costs of home ownership – in my case I’ve been making do as much as possible and haven’t really spent much on the actual place, but between setting up a veggie garden, the chickens, and the dogs? Yeah…

    Got any money moves to share that give you that sweet, sweet feeling of accomplishment?

  • Financial vampires: Is there one in your life?

    Financial vampires - cut them out of your life

    Have you ever had a financial vampire in your life?

    Some people are just financially toxic. They are in the shit moneywise, and by merely being present in your life, will drag you down too.

    You may feel obligated to help, or they may explicitly pressure you to do so.

    Whatever their situation, do not risk your own financial wellbeing on their behalf.

    When you step into the role of the money martyr, odds are you’re not just damaging your own financial health but also doing a number on your emotional and physical health as well in the process.

    Those who truly love us and have our best interests at heart will not expect this of us.

    I mean, it feels good to be selfless, if you can afford it. Not to get all The Secret-y on you, but I swear little windfalls have correlated with times that I’ve given more.

    And yet.

    Beware of giving up too much to the people closest to you.

    There’s a difference between supporting someone through a temporary rough patch, vs enabling consistently poor choices and habits. The trick is making that distinction and it’s not always easy to see where that line falls, particularly in a newer relationship.

    I’ve spoken to so many people recently who’ve been in relationships where a significant other has taken advantage of their financial goodwill. In some cases it’s been about subsidising their slacker partners; in others it’s been about taking responsibility for a partner’s debt, or even incurring new debt on their behalf.

    We all agreed on one thing: we’d be much better off today if we’d wised up earlier. Sexually transmitted debt – it’s a thing, and in the worst cases can take years to bounce back from.

    We only get one shot at life, and it’s okay to put your own financial wellbeing first. Start by helping yourself and securing your own needs, then you can turn your attention to helping others.

    When it comes to financially toxic relationships, it’s best to cut those losses earlier rather than later. As a wise friend said, we aren’t just hurting our current selves by staying – we’re also hurting our future selves.

    Give generously. But never, ever sacrifice your own financial stability for anyone else’s sake.

    When it comes to money, ALWAYS put yourself first.

  • How the young and broke make car-related decisions

    Is it worth buying a manual car? You can push start them in a pinch if they won’t start.

    How long should we register it for? It’s cheaper overall to buy a full year’s registration upfront … but what are the odds this car is going to last that long?

    How much should we put in the tank this week? If this is the week it dies….

    (Seriously, I swear every one of our past clunkers gave up when on a relatively full tank, or was put out of action for an extended period of time with lots of petrol in the tank, such as after that one big accident…)

    I do NOT miss the constant stress of owning a beater – rattling around with multiple things falling apart, only ever being about one repair away from scrapping the whole thing. When just one more would be the last straw tipping it over the edge to not-worth-it.

    This may as well have been our anthem.

    One of the best things about earning more is being able to afford a much better vehicle that doesn’t give us cause to worry.

    I’m not happy that we needed to replace two tyres this month (are our wheels just magnets for nails?!) but very grateful that we passed the WOF check (our 2nd in this car!) with no drama, and are good for another year.